It is well known that infertility in the United States is on the rise. The use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) by infertile couples is increasing by 5% to 10% annually. Although this may be partially due to societal factors such as advanced education and career opportunities for women, later marriage, and delayed childbearing, there is likely more to this issue. In fact, recent studies show that after a year of having unprotected sex, 15% of couples are unable to conceive a child. Moreover, after two years, 10% of couples had still not achieved a successful pregnancy.
Thyroid dysfunction has been discussed as a contributor to female fertility issues for quite some time. However, it is typically decreased thyroid activity, or hypothyroidism that is of primary concern. This is because a decline in thyroid function slows many bodily processes which can contribute to fertility issues such as luteal phase defects, hyperprolactinemia, and sex hormone balance.
In addition to hypothyroidism, studies suggest that the more common subclinical hypothyroidism, which is not easily detectable through standard testing, can also cause serious fertility issues.
However, new research finds that hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is also likely to compromise fertility:
What is the Link Between Hyperthyroidism & Infertility in Women?
Thyroid function is connected to hormones in the body beyond thyroid hormones. Thyroid function impacts hormones involved in fertility such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
It is important to note that because of the complexity of the thyroid and body as a whole, experts are not certain of the extent to which hyperthyroidism impacts fertility, but research shows that hyperthyroid can contribute to the following:
- Early Pregnancy Loss
- Reduced Fertility
- Preterm Delivery
- Anovulation (egg is not released during menstruation)
- Menstrual irregularities
A 2018 review found that 5.8% of women with hyperthyroidism have primary infertility. This review also found that 2.1% of women with hyperthyroidism have secondary infertility (Primary infertility is when a pregnancy has never been achieved by a person, and secondary infertility is when at least one prior pregnancy has been achieved. Fertility care encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infertility.)
Is There A Link Between Hyperthyroidism & Male Fertility?
Male fertility is also strongly influenced by the thyroid. Thyroid hormone imbalances, both excess or deficiency, are connected to various male fertility issues including altered function of the testis and semen irregularities.
Research shows that hyperthyroidism in men is implicated in reducing semen volume as well as limiting sperm density, motility, and morphology. One study composed of 25 patients diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that induces hyperthyroidism, found that half of the population developed a reduction in sperm motility and subsequent decline in fertility rates.
The researchers posit that the excess thyroid hormone circulating in the bloodstream was a primary contributor. The same study also found that 40% of thyrotoxic patients, those with greatly elevated thyroid hormone values, developed oligozoospermia and teratozoospermia, each of which are associated with reduced semen volume.
Conversely, a decline in thyroid function has also been shown to inhibit male fertility. Studies show that hypothyroidism, slowed or limited thyroid function, is associated with a reduction in sperm morphology, sperm vitality and movement of sperm through the epididymis. Each of these factors are pivotal elements of male fertility and can greatly limit reproductive success.
The significant influence that both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have on male fertility makes it clear that thyroid testing for any man experiencing fertility difficulties. Any man interested in procreation should make thyroid health a priority.
How Can You Resolve Thyroid Dysfunction & Infertility?
The thyroid is a powerful regulator of numerous bodily functions including many that affect fertility. Although thyroid issues are more common in women, it is important that both men and women recognize the powerful influence of the thyroid on their reproductive ability. Those struggling to conceive should strongly consider having their thyroid evaluated. For many men and women proper treatment and normalization of the thyroid may be the key to restoring their reproductive health.
If you’re interested in addressing your fertility and/or thyroid health with comprehensive medical guidance, call us at (877) 508-1177.